The Georgia Aquarium is the biggest in the world. The largest tank contains over 6 million gallons of water and houses over 100,000 sea creatures. You can sit in semi-darkness in front of a massive acrylic wall with symphonic music playing and marvel at the 40,000-pound whale shark and the 25-foot wing span of a giant Manta Ray.
The “Tropical Diver” gallery is a Pacific Reef ecosystem with living coral and thousands of brightly colored and oddly shaped fish made famous by Nemo and Dory. Volunteer divers with large toothbrushes enter this aquarium every day, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, and scrub algae from the rocks and windows.
Let’s go below the surface
Creating an environment in which big and small fish can thrive is challenging. The aquarium has complex systems to constantly filter and maintain optimal temperature in all of the tanks. The “Husbandry Commissary” is an on-site factory with fridge and freezer storage totaling over 25,000 pounds of food, mostly fish. Hundreds of employees and volunteers prepare and deliver meals daily for each aquatic species.
If the fish are not adequately fed, they will eat each other!
It’s a ‘Dog-eat-dog’ world, or so the idiom goes. We should change that to a ‘fish-eat-fish’ world, considering that dogs are not among the most cannibalistic of animals. The fish is not man’s best friend, the dog gets the idiom.
There is no grace in nature.
The secular naturalist has trouble with their worldview. It is impossible to explain, from that viewpoint, why anything exists or why any life exists. This incredibly complex and vibrant world packed with diverse and interrelated lifeforms points toward a creator.
The Apostle Paul tells us as much: “For His invisible attributes, namely, His power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, ESV)
We understand much more about the world around us than inhabitants of Rome in the first century. We are so much more without excuse to perceive the existence of our creator. The Georgia Aquarium offers a front row seat to what God imagined into existence – bioluminescent jellyfish, inflatable poisonous puffers, dolphins that name themselves, communicate and sleep with their blowhole above the surface.
You can learn about God through His creation - but don’t take the red line MARTA to Peachtree Center station and walk 10 minutes to the Aquarium every weekend as worship.
Paul speaks to this: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25, ESV)
Nature gives us only general revelation about God. We must look elsewhere for specific revelation. The inspired word tells us what we would have no other way to know. God created a world of freedom, marred by sin. He entered this sphere in the person of Jesus and completed the perfect atoning sacrifice, embodying grace and forgiveness - concepts which do not exist in the world of fish.
The gathering of those who follow Jesus should dramatically contrast with the ‘fish-eat-fish’ world around us. I’ll flesh this out in the next post.